You've planted, you've pruned, you've fertilized and fretted. Your trees are finally flowering and ready to produce fruit. But you're not the only one with eyes on your cherries, apples and pears. Bird damage can severely limit your harvest and leave you with mutilated, inedible fruit. To protect your trees, take steps to protect your fruit early in the growing season. Use a variety of deterrents to scare off the widest variety of birds and keep bolder species from growing accustomed to your tactics.
Share. This is the easiest method, requiring little more than an expansive attitude. Unfortunately, birds may take advantage and wipe out your entire harvest without the least bit of gratitude.
Offer an alternative. Mulberries are very attractive to birds, and they may favor it over your other trees. Tough and attractive, mulberries start to fruit at a young age. There are several varieties available for use in all parts of the U.S. Mulberries range in size from 30 to 75 feet.
Scare them with shiny things. Strung through tree branches, Mylar ribbon twists in the breeze and reflects light, startling birds. Hanging aluminum pie pans and balloons with holographic "eyes" have the same effect. These devices must be moved regularly or birds will begin to ignore them.
Use noisemakers and distress call recordings. Commercial fruit growers employ propane-powered cannons to create loud, explosive sounds. Inappropriate in all but the most remote gardens, similar results are possible with portable radios, motion-activated recordings of barking dogs and wind chimes.
Consider an electronic distress call device. Mimicking the cries of an injured bird, it encourages birds of the same species to stay away. Hawks and other raptors are attracted to these sounds, eager for an easy meal. These circling predators are an excellent deterrent.
Cover the trees. Bird netting can be draped over trees and secured to the trunk. Use a 5/8-inch weave and be sure to check it daily because birds can and do get caught in the mesh.